I’ve written many articles based on patios which include a guide on how to lay paving slabs yourself, how much you should expect to pay to have a new patio layed, how to pave over a manhole cover as well as given reviews on paving slabs that I have personally layed, but I’ve never actually written a buying guide to help you choose the best patio slabs for your garden, until now!
There is so much to talk about so be ready for a long read! To help you choose the best paving slabs for your patio I will be discussing the different styles of paving slabs, the sizes and patterns available as well as the different materials on the market for you to choose from.
First, let’s look at choosing the right sized paving slabs depending on the size of your garden patio
One of the best ways to help choose the right paving slabs for your garden is by looking at which size slabs works best and go from there. As a general rule if thumb, the bigger your patio the larger the paving slabs your going to want to use. Just look at the before and after image below where we replaced the square 600x600mm Indian sandstone paving with the 900x450mm porcelain paving slabs. The customer wanted rectangular paving slabs for her patio, but I explained that it would be better to use the thinner 900x450mm porcelain paving instead of the 900x600mm (same width as her existing paving, only longer) since it was a small area.
If the area was larger then I may have gone for the 900x600mm paving slabs but I think this worked well in this instance. Rectangular sized paving slabs can vary quite dramatically with natural Indian sandstone typically available in 600x295mm and 900x600mm options whilst porcelain paving typically has a few more options available including 600x295mm, 900x600mm and even 1200x600mm.
If you aren’t into rectangular paving slabs then you can always go for the 600x600mm square patio paving slabs which are the most popular size available for both Indian sandstone and porcelain paving. You can get the smaller 450x450mm squared paving slabs but these are typically more popular with the machine made concrete paving as opposed to natural stone and porcelain, although that doesn’t mean they are impossible to find but it will definitely narrow your choices down.
Another great way to break down your paving and give it a more modern look is to get the mixed sized patio packs which is most popular with Indian sandstone. Typically there are 4 sizes available in each pack which include your large rectangular 900x600mm slabs, large square 600x600mm slabs, small rectangular 290x600mm slabs and small square 290x290mm slabs. A good example is with these Kota Black natural limestone patio slabs below.
Use your garden’s theme to help pick the best paving slabs for your garden patio
Are you just going to be changing the patio in your existing garden or will you be redesigning your garden entirely? If you are happy with your existing garden and just want the addition of a new patio then it might be a good idea to match your new paving slabs to your current garden’s theme and decor. If your going to be redesigning your entire garden then make sure that your new paving slabs are going to match your new garden, and not what exists now.
If you want a more natural looking garden then I would recommend looking at the natural hand split paving slabs with a riven surface – The Sagar Black have an old medieval look about them and are dark in colour (see the picture below). If your after something lighter then I would recommend looking at the Mint Fossil – If this is too light then the Raj Green could be a happy medium.
Block paving is great for lots of twists and turns such as paths but this doesn’t mean it’s not possible with other paving options. If your looking for a back garden to match the front drive as opposed the the theme itself then it’s likely block paving could be the way forward.
For the most modern look then porcelain paving is your best bet with a wide range of colours available. We had a customer go for white porcelain to match his villa in Spain and painted his walls and plant pots/vases to match!
From the plants in your flower beds to the colour of your garden fence, everything contributes to picking the right paving slabs for your garden patio so make sure to take a good look around. You can always change things after your new patio is layed if needed!
How to choose the right paving slabs for your garden patio depending on your budget
In any case, laying a new patio is never cheap but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t cheaper paving slabs to buy compared to others on the market so let’s look at the typical starting prices per type of patio slabs.
If your looking at the prices by the squared meter, then there are typically 4 groups available. Block paving like you see on driveways are the cheapest option with prices starting from around the £15 mark, concrete paving slabs start from around the £20 per squared meter mark, natural Indian sandstone as well as limestone we purchase from the £28 per squared meter mark with porcelain coming in at the most expensive with prices starting from £35 per squared meter which is no surprise as they are the easiest to maintain and in my opinion, look the best.
There are other aspects to look at too when trying to keep the price down such as the preparation and cost of materials needed. Block paving is in my experience the easiest and quickest to lay which means that it will save you money on labour where as natural stone with an uneven riven surface may take longer to lay as it will be harder to find an average level that looks right. Porcelain paving are the most expensive per squared meter but their smooth finish makes them lovely to work with. With all of this in mind, it could be worth getting a few quotes with a style of slab you love, and one that you can afford.
Finally, let’s take a look at each type of paving slab to help you choose the best patio for your garden
So we’ve looked at the basics of choosing the right paving slabs for your garden patio such as your garden’s theme, prices of paving and choosing the best sized patio slabs depending on the area you will be paving but I really think that the best way to finish this buying guide and to give you a better understanding is to have an in depth look at the 4 main categories of paving which are the block paving, concrete, natural stone and porcelain paving slabs.
Is block paving the best solution for your new patio?
Block paving is most common on driveways but also make a great addition to any back garden and can make a beautiful patio – They especially look good when used for garden paths with twists and turns like the one above.
They are low maintenance as they don’t suffer from natural staining on the scale that natural stone does and you don’t need to worry about the pointing breaking and coming away since you would usually just sweep in kiln dried sand!
These block paving slabs are known for their ability of holding substantial weight (given the preparation has been done correctly) and it’s no surprise with a depth of 50mm per pavier – Much thicker than your typical natural stone and porcelain slab. Although block paviers come in 200x100mm sizes as standard there are other options available with many colours and styles to choose from. You could make patterns within your new patio, create your very own borders with ease and so on.
Are concrete paving slabs better than natural stone for your new patio?
Like the block paving, concrete paving slabs don’t suffer from natural staining on a scale that natural paving does, such as lichen (black spots) but they aren’t as popular as they once were.
If you are looking for paving slabs that can hold a substantial amount of weight such as a car, jacuzzi, shed etc then concrete slabs are more durable since in most cases, they are thicker at 30 – 50mm. Although this doesn’t mean that natural stone and porcelain can’t be used – It just means that you will need to look for thicker slabs and make sure you do the preparation correctly.
Concrete slabs are available in a wide range of colours and styles such as a smooth or riven surface, giving the impression of a natural stone but almost always have a sawn edge taking away that natural look. This isn’t all bad as many people opt for this neat finish and it allows them to use spacers when laying.
If concrete paving slabs sounds like the best option for you then just be aware that unless you are looking for square 450x450mm or 600×600 paving slabs then they may be hard to find or at least, narrow your options down quite significantly
Natural stone paving is the most popular choice but are they right for your garden?
Natural Indian sandstone and natural limestone paving slabs are likely one of the most popular paving slabs being layed today and with so many options to choose from it’s no surprise why.
Unlike machine made concrete patio slabs where each slab is identical to the next, from the colour/shade to the patterns and riven surface, each natural paving flagstone are truly unique from each other.
Not only this but they are so popular that you can get your chosen style from a range of different suppliers making it easy to compare prices or even order more slabs if your chosen supplier has sold out and you are a few paving slabs short.
You can typically choose packs of singular 600x600mm square slabs or 900x600mm large rectangular slabs or even go for the mixed packs offering 4 different sized slabs for that modern jigsaw effect, although other options may be available. Not only this but you can choose between a natural hand split edge or a machine cut sawn edge. There are lots of options available when it comes to natural paving to help you not only choose, but create the perfect natural stone patio for you.
Porcelain is more expensive but would it be the right choice of patio for you?
Out of all the paving options available I would say that providing you go for the 20mm thick ones that porcelain is the most durable and requires the least maintenance. Most of the porcelain paving slabs on the market are vitrified meaning that they have a low water absorption rate of less than 0.5% making them less likely to suffer from moss and algae and don’t suffer from lichen (black spots) like natural paving does.
They are machine made so have a smooth surface and edge, unlike natural paving. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t come with their own shades and patterns like the natural paving does – Just look at the image above! These porcelain paving slabs are called Kandla grey, an imitation of the Kandla Grey natural sandstone.
In my opinion porcelain looks the best and requires the most maintenance. With an approximate price increase of around 30% compared to the other varieties of patio slabs to choose from, I would say that they are worth the money. Although all patios can last a lifetime and look as good as the day you layed them provided that you look after and maintain them properly.
My overall thoughts on choosing the right paving slabs for your garden patio
Hopefully I’ve not complicated things when choosing the right patio for your garden but rather simplify everything by breaking the paving options up into 4 different categories. I would first recommend looking at the paving options available and just ticking off exactly what your not looking for before deciding on the best colour slabs that would best suit your garden. Once you have your colour and style chosen, you just need to figure out which sized slabs you are looking for and fingers crossed – It’s as easy as that! In theory at least.
There was lots to write about in this article that I’ve most likely forgotten a few things so if you do get stuck then please comment below and I’ll try and answer your questions the very same day! If your looking for paving ideas then why not follow our Instagram page?